I can’t exactly believe I am doing this, but for this first post, I will begin by quoting the Bible:
Now God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man (Genesis 2:3).
Why did I quote the Bible, an action that I do not naturally take? I quoted the Bible (the translated Torah, specifically) because – for better or for worse – this old testament often serves as a moral code for religious people. While the Torah teaches kindness, love, and the importance of family, it can also teach patriarchal values. These values begin with the creation of man that is followed by the creation of woman. According to the first few founding verses of the Torah, Eve was created to serve Adam. Eve became Adam’s “suitable helper,” rendering her subservient from the beginning. Because Adam and Eve are the first and founding people in Judaism, the role of Adam is often generalized to be the male role in society and the role of Eve is generalized to be the female role in society.
These roles are not complex. The story of Adam and Eve is a simple one: God makes Adam. God makes Eve for Adam. They have sex. Eve meets a snake. The snake tells Eve to eat an apple from a forbidden tree. Eve obeys. Eve gives the apple to Adam. God finds out. They are exiled from Eden, etc. Though this story may be simple, the centuries of interpretations and connotations are anything but. Adam is rendered innocent and seduced. Eve is rendered a temptress, a seducer, and (oh no!) a woman who sins by seeking out knowledge.
The purpose of this blog, however, is not to quote Torah or analyze to death biblical characters who may or may not have existed. The purpose of this blog is to challenge the stereotypes and roles cast upon the Jewish women of the past and present. I simply thought that, for this first post, I would reference the first Jewish woman…and partially explain the title of this forum for Jewish feminism.
There is plenty more to come and I am eager to hear what you have to say in comments!